Catechism Qs 6-7

What did God make?  

God made me and everything.

How did God make everything?

Out of nothing, by His word.  

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (NIrV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:1-3 (ESV)

Q5 teaches a truth about reality, that sets Christianity apart from other religions. In its essence, it is answering the question, “Is all one?” The Bible’s answer to the question is no. All is not one. Rather, reality is clearly and distinctly divided into two separate categories: Creator and creation. The Creator is not part of creation, but He is instead its explanation. Why is this so important? Because as a human species, we have so often gotten this wrong. In fact, Peter Jones has pointed out that every other concept of reality, besides the biblical one, is really just another way of saying, “all is one.” Ever since the Garden of Eden, we humans have been attempting to blur the line between God and man, between creation and Creator. It is in our natures to do this–which is evident when we survey world religions and the various worldviews that exist out there. We humans are constantly trying to (a) make ourselves equal to God, or (b) make God equal to His creation. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to survey all the worldviews that do this right now, but we will look quickly at one example: Philosophical Materialism.

Philosophical Materialism is a worldview that says that matter and energy is all that exists. There is no soul (the mind is a product of physical processes); there is no God. The material universe is all there is. The cosmos is its own creator. In other words, all is one. Think about this: if there is no God, and matter is all there is, and we are matter–and we are the “highest evolved” form of matter in the universe, then we get to define our own reality for ourselves. After all, there is no one and nothing higher than homo sapiens to define reality for us. We are the ultimate authority in the cosmos. We are, for all intents and purposes, gods.

Of course, when you follow this line of thinking out to its inevitable conclusions, this means that those who are stronger have more authority to define reality than those who are weaker (after all, who’s to say they don’t?), and it opens the door to all kinds of oppression of the powerless by the powerful. Isn’t it ironic, that a worldview which strives to free humanity ultimately ends up enslaving it? That is what happens when we substitute our own ideas for the truth about reality, expressed in Scripture. We are not going to come up with a better system than the loving God has put in place. After all, He is Creator, and we are merely creation. 

The Bible contradicts Materialism (and its twin siblings Naturalism and Scientism) in its very first sentence: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Right from the start, Scripture teaches that all is not one. The cosmos is not all there is, and it did not and could not create itself. There is a distinction between the contingent creation, which might not have existed, and the necessary Creator, who could not not exist.

Someone could be a practical materialist, even if he or she did not consciously subscribe to Philosophical Materialism. How? By living as though material things were all that mattered. There is a reason why greedy and vain people are called “materialistic.” It is important to check our hearts, because the “stuff” of this world can easily become more important to us than the Lord who made all the stuff, and graciously provides it to us to enjoy, steward, and share with others. One day Jesus will return, and it will not matter then how much “material” we have accumulated.

So, the “bad news” for us is this: we are not the highest authority in the universe. God made us, and He made everything. He has the rights of the Builder, and He gets to do what He wants. To our natural, sinful selves, this really seems like bad news. We want to be creator–in charge, autonomous.

But when the Lord opens a sinner’s eyes, and when He causes us to see Jesus as He truly is–as the rightful king of creation–our relative cosmic powerlessness becomes the best news in the world. It is the very thing that brings us into the relationship we were designed to enjoy. When we confess that we are utterly helpless to right our wrongs and reconcile us to Him, and when we trust in His Son alone to save us, He makes us children of the Creator God, who made us and everything.

Further reading: 

Only Two Religions, a book and teaching series by Peter Jones. Find it at Ligonier Ministries.

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Author: Joel Settecase

Joel Settecase has served in pastoral and teaching roles at Grace Pointe Church in Plainfield, IL, as well as Chicago Hope Academy and Park Community Church in Chicago. He is the author of the New Covenant Catechism for Little Ones and the Settecase Student Ministry Learning Standards, and he has been blogging on ministry and apologetics since 2013. Joel is the proud husband of Aliza and father of three children.

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